Message from Unit Director Emeritus, Duane “Poncho” Alire – October 2016

9th 75th50th Infantry Crest 001

Gentlemen, Friends and Members of Our Extended Family;

“I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into”…
Quoted from the Ranger Creed

When we convened our 2015 LRRP/Ranger reunion in Newburgh, NY last September – a little over a year ago – I reminded the attendees that one of my goals as Unit Director was to honor ourselves as veterans of the Vietnam War.

Clancy and Director Emeritus "Poncho" Alire

Clancy and Director Emeritus “Poncho” Alire

This report attests to the determination of our members as I was reminded by several of the guys before leaving Newburgh that I had failed to recognize Clancy Matsuda for his work during the early days of E50 LRRP/ E75 Rangers.

I was surprised by the number of reminders, but not concerned, as I had planned to and was prepared to recognize him at the reunion. However, life circumstances sometimes intervene, and in this case, Clancy and his wife, Connie, were unable to attend the Newburgh reunion.

Personalizing the above referenced quote from the Ranger Creed, ”We will never forget to recognize a deserving comrade”, I was joined in Brandon, South Dakota on Friday, September 23rd by former Unit Director Rick Stetson to take care of a piece of lingering business from my tenure as Unit Director.

Clancy Matsuda with Director Emeritus Rick Stetson

Clancy Matsuda with Director Emeritus Rick Stetson

My determination to accomplish this bit of unfinished E50/E75 business was driven in part by the role that Clancy played in my short military career as a Vietnam era LRRP.

As each of us may recall, we “were either volunteered” for service by “Special Orders Number 250 to Troop D, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry for deployment” (1966-1967) or we volunteered outright for service in E50 LRP/LRRP (1967-1968). However assigned, we remember our time in the LRRPs and the enduring “bonding of warriors” that followed.

In January 1968 while being processed at the 90th Replacement, I volunteered for service in E50 LRRP. After being interviewed by then Captain Matsuda, and if my memory serves me, I, along with Dan Bien, Bob Pegram and Gary Becham, were accepted “conditionally” in to the unit.

Our first test as LRRP “FNGs” (funny new guys) was to not be assigned by the 90th Replacement to another unit. Paraphrasing Matsuda, “If that happens, it will be next to impossible for us to you reassigned to the LRRPs”. Unbeknownst to me, both Clancy and I adhere to a bit of wisdom stated clearly by General Jimmy Doolittle when he said, “If we should have to fight, we should be prepared to do so from the neck up instead of from the neck down”. Our first LRRP mission was to briefly evade the United States Army! I’ll save that story for another time.

A couple of months later Sgt. Walden took me aside in the company area and said, “Captain Matsuda and I have heard good reports on you and he just gave you a team”. I suddenly became team leader of LRRP Team 11, a post which I held for most of 1968.

But I digress – after travelling to South Dakota; we met with the Matsuda’s at their home in Brandon. We breakfasted, reminisced about our time in the military, talked late into the evenings and spent Saturday touring Sioux Falls with Clancy.

Connie, the consummate hostess, prepared delicious meals and treated us to the South Dakota state dessert – kuchen.

Kuchen was designated the state dessert in 2000. The dessert was introduced by German settlers in the 1870s and is now found throughout the state. It can be found in peach, apple, prune and chocolate pecan variations and, of course, my favorite, strawberry rhubarb.

Before long, our 3 day visit came to a close.

Rick presenting the "Unit Director Award" to Clancy Matsuda.

Rick presenting the “Unit Director Award” to Clancy Matsuda.

The highlight of our visit to South Dakota was recognizing Clancy for his work in the early days of our informal, volunteer unit – E50/E75. He served with distinction as our Company Commander, contributed regularly to the Unit newsletters and wrote the introduction to Bob Hernandez’s book, The Bonding Of Warriors. He often gracefully and with humble dignity blessed our reunions, meetings and meals. He was one of the “originals” – those guys who attended the first unit reunion in 1993 – and always warmly welcomed “first timers” to our reunions. And he set high standards of human behavior for us both in Vietnam and back home.

At our last evening meal, I presented him with a Unit Director’s Award for Exemplary Service to E50 LRRPs/E75 Rangers.

In the end, we – Connie, Rick and I – measured up to the standards set forth in the Ranger Creed and further accomplished our continuing goals to honor ourselves as veterans of the Vietnam War and to never leave a comrade behind.”

For those who can download and/or view photographs, I have attached several for your enjoyment.

LRRPs Led The Way and Rangers Lead The Way!

Poncho

Retired E50/E75 Unit Director

“Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.”

Rick Stetson readies to run for the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure”

Rick Stetson readies to run for the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure”

p.s. On Sunday morning, September 25th, Clancy drove us to Falls Park in Sioux Falls so Rick could participate in the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure”, an annual 5 kilometer foot race. The race was attended by several hundred participants and raised money for breast cancer research and treatment.